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peat free compost

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Hi Ya, I have always used peat compost and as we are going peat free does anyone use it already and which one would they recommend. The peat free I have seen is rubbish I can make my own compost better but i could mix the 2 and try that. Any advice would be most most welcome,

There have been various threads here on this topic (including on the question of whether and when peat-based composts will cease to be available to the public). The views expressed might be summed up as:

- you pay your money and take your chance

- price is no indication of quality

- as the formulations vary from season to season (if not production run), past performance is no guide.

Good luck and let us know how you get on!

The best success I have had is taking any bought peat free and mixing it with either home made or top soil (for potting on) or with sharp sand for sowing and pricking out. This seems to solve the capping/waterlogging of most bought peat-free mixes.

Tee Gee:
I have been experimenting this last couple of years due to the variation with various compost mixes.

My thoughts were that over all the years I have gardened I have never replaced any soil in my garden or allotments, generally all I have done is rejuvenated the soil with manure and fertilisers, and I was usually quite happy with the results.

Added to which, I looked to mother nature where she left the rejuvenation to fallen detritus, the weather, animals, insects, invertebrates and bacteria!                   

So I got to thinking, would rejuvenating my compost each year give me similar results?

So I gave it a go!

This is how I have gone on this year, and to be quite honest, I am feeling quite optimistic that I might be on to something!

OK something I must mention and that is; since giving up my allotments most of my growing is now done in containers

I thought I would go for a variation on 'The John Innes route' which is basically loam and peat in a ratio of  (7-3) where I would use the spent compost in lieu of loam,and freshly purchased compost as the peat content.

My Methods;

I have three old dust bins with lids that were made redundant when we got our wheely bins, and I also have 3 Dalek type compost bins.

After harvesting last year's crops, I emptied the spent compost into these in a selective manner, e.g.

The poor quality stuff went into certain bins/ daleks and the stuff I considered to be of a fairly good quality went into the remaining bins/daleks, where it remained until this Spring.

Around February time, I sieved/riddled the compost to extract any old root systems and any other detritus

Once I had finished the sieving/riddling, I decided that I would  mix some better quality compost with the not so good to produce my 'loam' content. I have to say that the ratios I used were not very scientific, all I did was look and feel the various qualities of compost and blended them to try and achieve as good as a result as was possible.

Then I tried to locate a source of Peat which was quite difficult but after a chat with the manager of our local garden centre he put me onto Westland's 'The Gardener's Multi-purpose compost' which has a high peat content (supposedly 60%) and it fitted the bill nicely. Then I purchased a 100 litre bag of Perlite to substitute for the sand recommended for the John Innes recipe.

My next port of call was to buy some John Innes Base fertilser online!

For economy reasons I bought the 20kg bag which worked out around about a third of the price compared to those 1 kg boxes at a garden centre!

Now I had the ingredients for my compost!

Now as most of you will be aware there are a number of John Innes recipes which cater for various growing conditions, so to overcome this I diverted a bit more from the original recipes and went my own way which again was a bit 'trial and error.'

I started off with the true recipe of 7 loam,3 peat, 2 parts sand plus an amount of fertilser to suit the various recipes.

My final recipe ended up as follows; 6 parts spent compost, 3 Parts Multi-Purpose and 1part Perlite and no fertilser at this stage!

I also checked the pH at this point and adjusted it with Lime if required.

As I was not quite sure how much Ji1/Ji2/Ji3 I wanted I mixed up 60-7o- litres bags/batches of what I named "My Base Mix" then when I wanted a particular recipe I would measure out a 10litre bucket of "Base MIx" then add the required amount** of base fertiliser.

**At this stage, I needed a simple way to measure out the fertilser because it came in kg's and measuring spoons were in millilitres, so I weighed out a number of spoonfuls of fertilser ,then weighed it and this gave me the weight in a 25ml measuring spoon, so I was able to weigh out the recommended gms/litre as required for Ji1/Ji2?ji3 recipes.

OK, this year has been a big learning curve, but I am optimistic that next year and the years thereafter should be a dawdle!

If and when Peat is taken off the market as predicted all I think I will need to do is find a way of making a 'humus rich' compost in lieu of the multi-purpose I have used this year to add to the mixes shown above, however; I will jump that hurdle when it comes!

Sorry for the long explanation, but advice was asked for, so I have tried to oblige!

Hi Ya, Thanks all you have given me a way forward and I will give it a go, I must admit Tee Gee that my spent compost I put on the plot where my carrots are going but I will review that now. This especially as we are on a sandy light soil and during this dry period the soil is so sandy and dusty. I have certainly been given an incentive to play. I will use my own home made compost and search for a compatible good peat free one to try, thanks again for your time.


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